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Global Times

China's aircraft carrier development 'will not blindly follow the US'

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/5 21:08:40

China should walk its own path for its future aircraft carrier development and not blindly follow other countries like the US, Chinese military experts said on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump announced plans to reverse advanced technologies used on US carriers back to traditional ones.

Trump said last week that he wants to replace the electromagnetic catapults on the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier with steam-powered ones, while China is reportedly eyeing to use electromagnetic catapults on its future aircraft carrier.

The electromagnetic catapults "have a $900 million cost overrun" and "steam's worked for about 65 years perfectly," Trump said, US-based media outlet Newsweek reported last week.

However, electromagnetic catapults have a significant advantage over steam-powered ones, said Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst.

An electromagnetic catapult is smaller and capable of controlling power output to launch different kinds of aircraft of different weights, Wei said, noting that Trump's plan goes in the opposite direction of aircraft carrier development.

Trump seems to be more concerned about costs, and the older steam-powered catapult may provide more traditional job positions. These considerations are not military-related, Wei said.

The US has been the world leader in aircraft carrier development and deployment for decades, and China had to use carrier-operating countries for reference because it had none in the past, analysts said, but as China builds its own carriers, its future development will serve its own needs and not necessarily follow the paths of other countries.

A future aircraft carrier function demonstration model has been on display at the newly renovated and expanded Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing since Saturday. It has a flat-deck and carries not only fighter jets, but also early warning aircraft and stealth drones.

Although it might not represent the exact aircraft carrier China will build, it is a vision China has of what it would be like in the future, analysts said.

"While other countries' experiences and lessons are still worth studying, we should not blindly follow others," Wei said.

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